Rethinking Friendships and “Romance”: Cross-gender Friendships and Communication

By | July 18, 2011

I’ve been thinking and writing through a lot here recently. I think there are two main issues I’m running into: the existence of “romantic” passion, and what to do with it when discussing singles. These are questions which I feel Dan doesn’t answer very well.

  1. Most people have sexual desire, which has the real potential to complicate opposite sex friendships. As Brennan correctly points out, there is more to sexual desire than just the desire for sex. Or perhaps a better, hopefully clearer way to put it is that we have both the desire for sex and the desire for intimacy, and the two are deeply intertwined. Brennan suggests, I believe correctly, that intimacy can exist in a relationship without sex. In some cases, there is no sexual attraction between the two people for various reasons. But there is certainly the potential for intimacy to build the desire for sex as well, since the two are intertwined. So while I don’t believe that “men and women can’t be friends, because the sex part always gets in the way”, it is certainly not unlikely to complicate things either. Most people have sexual desire, which has the real potential to complicate opposite sex friendships. Since people often form friendships in similar ways and for similar reasons as they do “romances”, it isn’t surprising that one or the other person begins to feel a desire for more than friendship, especially if one or both people aren’t in any other exclusive “romantic” relationship. I know this has been my experience in a number of cases, though it is also true that I’ve had good friendships with women where it was never an issue.
  2. I have heard that 9 out of 10 women have experienced some sort of sexual harassment. Because of this, many if not most women are guarded toward men. With some of the stories I’ve heard, I certainly have a hard time blaming them. But that does create a barrier to friendships between the sexes. Unfortunately, this situation can hurt men and women, as the women have a harder time meeting decent men because of the walls they put up, and conversely decent guys have a hard time reaching women because of the same walls.
  3. Despite these concerns, I and many other people have experienced good, close relationships with members of the opposite sex where these concerns didn’t get in the way. It seems like this may be more true when you’re younger and in school, or it may have to do with people who aren’t conservative evangelicals. In any case, I miss those days and those relationships.
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